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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
After a long week of camping out at the Allen County Fair, Maddie Sharp, 17, left, Karlee Parker, 17, right, and Korbin Parker, 12, relax Sunday morning outside their campsite.

Visitors favor critters, activities at 4-H fair

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Dilan Buuck, 16, works his breeding stock paint horse Kip before the open show competition Sunday morning at the Allen County Fair.

For Allen County Fair-goers of a certain age, the animal petting area was the place to be on Sunday morning.

There were horses to stroke and pigs to prod. And if you happened to be a yellow chick, you were about to get the ride of your life in small, unsteady hands.

“We come every year for the animals,” said Anne Badowski, whose 4-year-old daughter Emma was smiling at a small chick she was cradling in her palm. “We got here early and this wasn’t open and they were freaking out.”

Sunday marked the final day of the 2012 Allen County Fair, though the 4-H Fair Livestock Auction takes place today.

Jerry Hammon, co-director for the fair, said the event had average to good attendance, drawing somewhere between 25,000 to 30,000 people.

“It went really well,” he said. “No major problems this year. The weather was on our side and that helped tremendously.”

Hammon said the fair likes to mix things up a bit, and this year’s event had a significant number of new activities.

Monster truck rides were new this year, as was archery tag – a game similar to paintball – and goat cart rides for small children. Visitors also had a chance to ride a mechanical bull and participate in a dairy milking contest. The latter competition had to be done with wooden cows, because owners of regular cows were hesitant to let just anyone try to milk their livestock.

“It worked out great and it made it more funny,” Hammon said.

Also new to the fair was a watermelon seed spitting contest.

According to Hammon, a group of Taiwanese students visiting IPFW just happened to swing by the fair during the contest and decided to participate.

“They thought it was a riot,” he said.

Hammon said the goal of the fair was twofold: To give young students in 4-H a chance to compete in crafts, showmanships and other skills, and to provide a fun, family-friendly, educational experience.

“There is so much going on in Fort Wayne. We try to come up with off-the-wall kinds of things that are going to be more community-oriented,” he said.